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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Major public art commission by Felice Varini opens Friday in New Haven

Site Projects
Felice Varini: Square with four circles
June 2—June, 2011
Opening Reception: Fri., June 4, 5 p.m.

Press release
Site Projects Inc is pleased to announce our 2010 public art commission by renowned Swiss artist Felice Varini. A 110 ft tall, multi-dimensional painting, Square with four circles, will be installed in Temple Plaza. This will be Varini's first outdoor public artwork in the United States.

The opening is June 4 at 5 p.m. in Temple Plaza. Join us in celebration with live music, guest speakers, tours and festivities. Events are free and open to the public.

Work on the execution of the artwork will take place both at nighttime and during the day. The installation will be a performance piece in itself offering the public a unique opportunity to observe the artist's process and the evolution of his artwork. Beginning May 23rd at night and using a large-format, high intensity projector, Varini will project the design into the darkened site. Once the outlines are drawn by the artist and his team, the daytime work of painting the mural will begin. Painting will be completed in the following 7—8 days.

The exhibition of the artwork will be on view through June 2011. During that period, Site Projects will offer a series of programs that connect art, architecture, mathematics and technology to the ideas in Varini's art. The site of Square with four circles will include the pedestrian passageway from Chapel Street into Temple Plaza and the exterior surfaces of the sculptural concrete exit ramp of the Crown Street garage. The site of the artwork is contiguous not only to New Haven Green but also to the Shubert Theater and Zinc restaurant.

A second Varini exhibit can be seen across the New Haven Green. Three black circles in air, on view through the end of August 2010, will be a temporary indoor mural at the New Haven Free Public Library, 133 Temple Street. The installation is in partnership with Site Projects and the Patrons of the New Haven Public Library.

Photographs of earlier Varini projects will be exhibited in the Yale University Art Gallery. Related paintings by students at Coop High School who have been studying Varini's work and who will work with the artist during his residency in New Haven will be exhibited at 210 College Street.

Funding for Square with four circles has been awarded by Pro Helvetia, the Arts Council of Switzerland, National Endowment for the Arts, CT Commission for Culture + Tourism, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the Seymour L. Lustman Memorial Fund, The David T. Langrock Foundation, as well as numerous local foundations and institutions. The hospitality sponsor for this project is The Study. In addition to support from the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, Site Projects has received the endorsement of Mayor John DeStefano and New Haven's Office of Cultural Affairs and is working in collaboration with the New Haven Parking Authority.

The exhibition of Square with four circles will be a world-class cultural event and an occasion for inviting the world to New Haven.

About the artist Felice Varini:

Felice Varini was born in Locarno, Switzerland in 1952 and currently lives and works in Paris, France. He defines himself as an abstract painter, and paints on architectural and urban spaces, such as buildings, walls and streets. The paintings are characterized by one vantage point from which the viewer can see the complete painting (usually simple geometric shapes such as circles, squares, lines), while from other view points the viewer will see 'broken' fragmented shapes. Varini explains that the work exists as a whole - with its complete shape as well as the fragments: "My paintings initially appear to the observer in the form of a deconstructed line which recalls nothing known or familiar, whence the effect of perturbation they produce. As one moves through the work, the line progressively appears in its composed form. One is thus under the illusion that the work is creating itself before one's eyes."

Varini's work plays with concepts of scale, proportion, and perception. While abstract and conceptual, Varini's three-dimensional wall paintings are also concrete and material. The viewer experiences them from within; as he/she moves through the architectural space that is the canvas, new discoveries are made at every step. Before making a painting, Felice Varini generally roams through the space noting its architecture, materials, history and function. From this spatial data and in reference to the last piece he produced, he designates a specific vantage point for viewing, from which his intervention takes shape.

The vantage point is carefully chosen: it is generally situated at his eye level and located preferably along a well-traveled route, for instance an opening between one room and another, or a clearing, or a landing... He then projects the form devised for the particular space onto its surfaces from the vantage point, then traces and paints. Varini tends to use simple geometric forms: squares, triangles, ellipses, circles, rectangles, and lines. These forms are usually created in one of the three primary colors: red, blue or yellow, occasionally employing some secondary colors, as well as in black and white. He justifies his choice of simple geometric shapes and basic colors by saying "If you draw a circle on a flat canvas it will always look the same. The drawn circle will retain the flatness of the canvas. This kind of working is very limiting to me, so I project a circle onto spaces, onto walls or mountainsides, and then the circle's shape is altered naturally because the 'canvas' is not flat. A mountainside has curves that affect the circle, and change the circle's geometry. So, I do not need to portray complicated forms in my paintings. I can just use the simplicity of forms, because the reality out there distorts forms in any case, and creates variations on its own accord. The same goes for colors. Usually I use one color only, and the space takes care of altering the color's hue. For example, if I use one type of red on a mountainside, the result is many kinds of red, depending on the mountain's surface and the light conditions. Sunlight will affect the different areas on the surface and the same red color may become stronger or darker or clearer in certain areas, depending on how the sun rays hit the surface. The sky can be bright or dark. And if the surface has its own color or a few colors then that will affect the red that I apply on it. So, I do not need to use sophisticated colors. The reality exists with its own qualities, shapes, colors and light conditions. What I do is simply add another shape and color in response to that."

Unlike the majority of artists, who work within strictly defined limits, Varini uses every dimension. By creating work that is not portable and cannot easily be contained, he sidesteps the temptation to make a cult object of the artwork. For him the "art object" has become a rearguard concept. Indeed he has neither a collection to sell, nor paintings to store. "I'm entirely free from material and logistical constraints. Like a musician performing on stage, I ask for a fee from whoever is commissioning the work, whether a gallery, a collector, a town council or an arts centre. This does not prevent my works from being sold on. Once I make a work it can be removed and remade in a different place, as long a certain guidance is followed. I write a description for each work, describing its specifications, and you can remake it in another space if you follow the exact instructions for the shapes, sizes, relation to each other, and relation to the space. The new space needs to have similar characteristics to the original one. The result will not be a new work, but rather a remake of the same work. I do not make an object and move it, but I move the concept, and can remake it in the new space, in the same way that there is a written play and a theatre company can stage it in a few different theatres."

About Site Projects Inc.:

Site Projects, New Haven's leading presenter of temporary public art, was established in 2004. Site Projects is a community based non-profit organization that commissions site-specific art projects by internationally recognized artists and collaborates with local organizations to present community-wide educational programs related to the artists and their works. The goal is to present visual art that appeals to a broad and diverse audience in New Haven, a community of 125,000 people.

Previous commissions include:
Matej Andraz Vogrincic[It Used to be My Playground] Erector Set boats in the Farmington Canal, 2007;
Jason HackenwerthThe Revenge of the Megadon, Great Hall of Dinosaurs, Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History, 2006;
Leo VillarealChasing Rainbows/New Haven, on the New Haven Green, 2004;

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